Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Hiking the Plitviče Lakes

Trip date: May 2019

From Zagreb I had a ~2 hour drive to the Plitviče Lakes National Park. The drive was easy, but once I turned off the freeway and was driving through the country, I encountered multiple snakes sidewinding across the road!

I was super excited to be spending such a beautiful day hiking through the 16-terraced lakes of this reserve. My plan had been to arrive and be hiking by 11am, grab a bite at one of the park's snack stands, and be done by the time the park closed at 6pm.

But when I arrived I found out that the park had recently implemented an advance online ticket sale system. I didn't have a ticket and it was too late to buy one online. So after standing in a ridiculously long line, trying to figure out if I was queued to buy a ticket, I finally learned that only 600 people are allowed in the park per hour. Tickets are sold for each hour, an hour before entry, for however many spots remain. I got in line at noon and was finally able to buy a ticket at 1pm for a 2pm entrance. During the hour I had to wait I grabbed some cevapcici, fries, and a radler.
I had read about the park and its stunning lakes, connected by walkways that passed over the clear blue waters, but was still completely stunned by the beauty when I finally was able to enter.

I chose to hike route C from Entrance 1, which would allow me to explore both the lower and upper lakes. The lower section was very crowded in places, I can't imagine how it was before they started limiting the number of visitors.

The weather changed just as I was completing the bottom 4 lakes, which helped to clear out some people. Luckily I had an umbrella in my backpack as it really started to pour! I waited for the boat that would take me up to the continuation of the C trail on the upper lakes, and before too long the sun was back out.


There is 2-way traffic on most of the paths, which are usually butted up against a lake or a waterfall, so it was frustrating to have people stopping to take selfies, or just walking 2 or 3 across. But once I got to the upper lakes the number of people dropped significantly and I found myself completely on my own many times. It was amazing!

You are just surrounded by water! Lakes, streams, waterfalls, springs... and it is crystal clear. Absolutely gorgeous! Even the forest is an amazing color of green. I just loved this hike.

I finished C Trail in two hours 45 minutes, ending at the bus pick up. It was another 15 min hike to Entrance 1 after the drop-off at Entrance 2. I was tired and ready for a shower and a cool beverage! It had been a spectacular day even with the hiccup that morning with the ticketing.
It was a quick drive to Hotel Degenija where I had a nice big room with a comfortable bed. The hotel is on a huge property with rolling grass lawns, a small orchard, and full-size outdoor swimming pool. I ordered a drink by the pool before moving inside for dinner at their Plum Café, which was fine but nothing to go out of your way for.
The next morning I had breakfast at the hotel, which was a good buffet selection of meats, cheese, breads, and eggs. Then I loaded my little rental car up and hit the road for Split; I was meeting my friend Aaron for a one-week yacht charter through the Dalmatian Islands. I was beyond excited!!!

All Plitviče photos here.


Other posts from this trip:

Every Yacht Charter Must End

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